Laird Students Take Special Trip, Tour Southern California Universities
Laird School is an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) School, and they strive to prepare students in middle school for four-year college eligibility. One way they do this is through providing opportunities for students to be exposed to the college setting via campus visits.
On Friday, March 1, after conducting substantial fundraising, 45 eighth-grade Laird students and nine chaperones made the road trip out to California to tour University of Southern California (USC) and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
There are many options for college right here in Arizona that students have had the chance to visit. For this trip, however, Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Language Arts Teacher Jessica Monroe wanted to expand students’ horizons and go further.
“It was important to me that kids get exposed to colleges outside of Arizona too,” said Monroe. “These students are so driven. If they keep up how hard they are working now, I know they can absolutely be accepted into any prestigious college.”
Students enjoyed full tours of both campuses, and got to see classrooms, student centers, learn about financial aid and scholarships, eat in the dining centers, and experience what a day in the life of a college student looks like.
Monroe shared that seeing something in person makes it feel more believable and attainable, and that is what she wanted for her students.
“I wanted these students to know that going to a college like one of these was possible for them, and it was my hope that this would inspire them to keep working hard now so that they can go to a school like this if they so choose,” Monroe said.
After touring campuses, there was one last very important and exciting thing left on the trip agenda – see the ocean! This was a first for many of the students. They dipped their toes in the cold ocean water and explored the Santa Monica Pier. Despite the rainy weather, students left happy and excited about the day.
"My favorite part of the California trip to USC and UCLA is seeing how the people interacted and how they focused while they do their work. Also, the history of the colleges really fascinated me,” said Eighth-Grade Student Nayeli Flores Amezquita. “While I walked around the campuses, I saw many things that I liked. For instance, at USC I enjoyed seeing the buildings and learning about how they have really good programs. Also, at UCLA I loved hearing about how they use the school as Harvard in many movies. While we walked around we met many recruiters for different programs and clubs that we got to learn about."
To attend the trip, students were required to have excellent grades and no behavior infractions. Monroe shared that the high standards for the trip kept students motivated.
“I lost 12 hours of sleep for this trip, but it was worth it to see the hope and excitement that it gave these kids for their futures,” Monroe said.
Thank you to all involved in planning and chaperoning this trip. We are grateful for the chance to give our students opportunities they wouldn’t normally have and expand their horizons!